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The Simpsons' marriage began to take on the classic signs of a fatal struggle. Friends called the relationship dangerous, dysfunctional, two passionate people goading and scraping at each other. One mutual acquaintance, cabaret singer Jennifer Young, recalls walking down Rodeo Drive one day after a lunch party with O.J. and another woman. Nicole drove up in her Mercedes convertible and began following them down the street, screaming obscenities, until the police came and sent her away. "He has a temper, but she had a temper too," Young says.
After the divorce, Nicole was counseled by therapist Susan Forward, author of the book Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them. Within 24 hours of Nicole's murder, Forward was claiming O.J. had beaten Nicole all through the marriage and had stalked her after the divorce. "He was telling her girlfriends and her that if he ever caught her with anyone, he would kill her," one friend told the Associated Press. "She totally broke it off with him three weeks ago."
In any domestic murder, the husband or lover is always the first to come under scrutiny because, police have learned painfully, women are commonly killed by the men closest to them. When the bodies were found outside Nicole's condo on Sunday night, cautious officials announced that they had no primary suspects. But they began building their case against O.J., even as he denied any involvement and went about his grieving for the mother of his children.
Some discern a classic love triangle. O.J. and Nicole had been together that very day for their daughter's dance recital. But he was not included in the dinner celebration that followed at Mezzaluna, the local restaurant where Nicole's friend Goldman, an aspiring actor, was a waiter. She called the restaurant later that evening to ask whether she had left her glasses, and Goldman offered to drop them off at her nearby condo.
Sometime after midnight, a neighbor out walking his dog found the bodies. Nicole, wearing only a nightgown, lay in a pool of blood, her head severed to the spinal cord. A barefoot Goldman lay nearby, his body laced with signs of a ferocious struggle and 22 knife wounds. It was the neighborhood dogs that sounded the alarm, their paws spreading a bloody mosaic on the sidewalk around the house. One of the first cops on the scene, a longtime veteran, said, "It was the bloodiest crime scene I have ever seen."
In the hours that followed, those who saw him say Simpson did not behave like a killer. He caught the 11:45 flight to Chicago for a meeting with Hertz executives and ran into an old acquaintance, photographer Howard Bingham, on the plane. They chatted, mainly about golf, and O.J. seemed in a cheery mood. "I did not notice anything out of the ordinary," Bingham said, astounded when he heard the news later. Employees at the O'Hare Plaza Hotel said Simpson arrived at dawn, tired but upbeat. He hung around the front desk for a few minutes, joking with the staff and signing autographs before heading up to suite 915. A few hours later, after getting news of the murder by phone, he returned to O'Hare Airport to catch a flight back to Los Angeles. He spent three hours with police and then went home; they described him as simply a witness, not a suspect.